How to Brew a Beer Kit
Most homebrewers start by brewing beerkits. This is the easiest way to brew your own beer and learn the basic procedures involved. The quality of beer you produce from a beer kit largely depends on the manufacturer, basically you get what you pay for.
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Brewing Equipment Needed
25 Litre Fermentation Vessel
Bottle Filling Stick
Beer Paddle Plastic
Twin Lever Capper
Crown Caps Gold
Bottles: If you are bottling your beer the bottles must be sterilised just prior to bottling. It is recommended that you soak them in sterilizing agent for at least 20 minutes, rinse them 5 times each and leave to drain.
CLEANING / STERILISING / RINSING
Any piece of equipment that comes in contact with your beer must be thoroughly cleaned, sterilised and rinsed.
All equipment must be thoroughly rinsed after cleaning to remove traces of detergent. Traces of detergent in the finished beer will affect the surface tension and result in poor head retention (i.e. a flat, unattractive pint!).
Your beer will be very susceptible to bacterial or yeast infection in the early stages of the brewing procedure. A sterile environment is necessary to produce a clean healthy tasting beer. Sterilisation of your brewing equipment should be done as close to brewing time as possible.
Bruclean Cleaner/Steriliser 400g
You have been supplied with the above Sterilising agent. Brupaks Bruclean can be used as a hot or cold solution. For general cleaning, mix 5 – 10 grams of Bruclean per litre of hot or cold water.
The importance of rinsing your sterilised brewing equipment cannot be stressed enough. Any traces of sterilising solution finding it’s way into your beer may give a TCP taste to your beer, in some cases making your beer undrinkable.
Now that you have cleaned, sterilized and rinsed all your equipment you are ready to start brewing.
HOW TO MAKE UP YOUR BEER KIT
Re-hydrate the yeast.
For healthy fermentation it is necessary to re-hydrate your yeast before adding it to the wort (wort is the name given to beer before fermentation has taken place). You will need to boil 100ml of water and add it to a jug or large glass. Cover this with foil or a sterilized plate etc. Allow this water to cool to about 30-35 deg celcius. Cut open the sachet of dry yeast and evenly sprinkle over the surface of the water. Do not stir or mix. Cover the jug once again and allow the yeast to re-hydrate for 20-30 mins.
Remove any labels from your beer kit can(s) and place in a pot of boiled water for 10 mins to soften the extract. Open the cans using a sterilized can opener and pour into your fermenter. Add approximately 2 litres boiling water to the fermenter. It is advised that you first pour this boiling water into the cans to rinse out any remaining extract and then add to your fermenter.
Once you have added the boiling water to the fermenter take your paddle and stir the wort to mix it thoroughly with the boiling water. Next top up the fermenter with cold water to the desired level or recommended level. This is usually 23 litres.
Now you must aerate the wort. Aerating the wort is necessary to introduce oxygen which will help the yeast get off to a good start and produce a healthy fermentation which will in turn produce a great beer. It is recommended that you stir vigorously with the paddle for 5 – 10 mins.
Next you must take a gravity reading with your hydrometer. Taking a gravity reading before and after fermentation will allow you to calculate the alcohol content of your beer. You can pop the hydrometer directly into the wort or you can take a sample from the wort and add it your trial jar. Your original gravity/ OG will usually be in the range 1.035 – 1.050. After fermentation your final gravity FG should have dropped to 1.006 – 1.012. Once you have these two readings you can use the following equation to calculate the % alcohol / Volume of your beer.
ABV (Alcohol by Volume) = Gravity Drop/8.06 %
eg. If your SG = 1.045 and your FG = 1.008 calculate % alcohol as follows:
ABV = (45 – 08)/8.06 = 4.59%
Once the wort has cooled to a temperature below 30 deg C pitch (add) the yeast and stir well. If the wort is above 30 deg C then put the lid on the fermenter and leave it for an hour or two to cool. Placing the fermenter in a bath of cold water will accelerate this process. After you have pitched the yeast leave the fermenter in a room where the temperature is 18 – 26 deg C. The yeast may become dormant at temperatures below 18 deg C. Unpleasant alcoholic flavours can develop at temperatures above 26 deg C. Keeping the temperature constant will improve the quality of your beer.
During fermentation the yeast you added to the wort will convert the sugar to alcohol. During the first 12-24 hours of fermentation there will be a lot of activity as large amounts of CO2 gas are produced by the yeast. If you are using an airlock this will bubble every few seconds. A large head will form on top of the wort.
After 3-5 days this yeast head will have subsided and fermentation will have slowed. Leave your beer sit in primary for 7 – 10 days. The specific gravity of the beer can now be checked, and once you get two stable hydrometer readings within a 24hr period it can be transferred to a barrel or bottles. The beer can also be put into a secondary fermentation bin for a period ( 10 – 14 days) to produce a cleaner tasting beer, this also has the advantage of allowing the beer to clear a little and reduce the sediment in the barrel or bottle.
You must add sugar to your beer before bottling. This process is called priming. The sugar will kick off a mini fermentation in each bottle and will carbonate your beer. Sugar can be added directly to the bottle(usually 1 teaspoon of sugar to each bottle), or you can add sugar to your beer by using a bottling bucket.
Ideally a bottling bucket should be used when priming your beer. You can use your fermenter. The amount of sugar you use depends on the style of beer you are making, but this amount is usually between 50g – 80g. You can also use different types of sugar. Many homebrewers recommend using glucose as priming sugar as it has little or no effect on the flavour of your beer. Glucose is readily available in most pharmacies and supermarkets. Boil the glucose in about 50 ml of water for a few minutes to dissolve it, cover and let it cool for while. Next pour the glucose solution into your bottling bucket and syphon the beer in on top of it. You will not need to stir or mix. Please note, that when transferring the beer from one vessel to another that you must submerge the tube in the beer and fill from the bottom up. This is done to avoid aerating your beer preventing oxidation.
Now it is time to bottle your beer.
Method 1: Transfer the beer to each bottle through a piece of tubing attached to the tap of your bottling bucket. This tube should be long enough to reach the bottom of the bottle.
Method 2: Transfer the beer to each bottle using a syphon tube. Your syphon tube should have a small tap to regulate the flow of beer. A length of tube can be attached to this tap so you can fill each bottle from the bottom up.
Method 3: A bottling stick can be used in either of the above methods. The bottling stick has a small valve on the end which is pressed against the bottom of each bottle to release the flow of beer. When removed from the bottle the flow of beer will stop. This is by far the most efficient way of bottling your beer. The bottle stick can be attached directly to the tap of your bottling bucket or to one end of your syphon tube(heat one end of the syphon tube in boiling water and then stretch it over the bottling stick).
Note: To start the flow of beer through your syphon tube use one of the following two methods. Place a small piece of tubing, approximately 2 inches long, over the tap on your syphon tube and suck the beer through the tube to start the flow. Remove this piece of tubing at the last second. This is done to prevent any bacteria from your mouth coming in contact with the beer.
Another method is to first fill the syphon tube with water closing the tap and holding your thumb over the other end to seal in the water. Now quickly submerge the open end in your beer. The water will not flow into your beer due to the pressure in the tube. Now drain off the water by opening the tap. When the beer replaces the water in the tube close the tap. Now you are ready to transfer the beer to your bottles or to another vessel
Finally cap your bottles and put in storage for conditioning.
The beer must be conditioned for a period of time to mature. It is recommended that you condition your beer for 4 – 6 weeks before drinking. Most brewers will tell you that the longer you leave it the better it will taste. After bottling you should store the beer in a warm place (18 – 24 deg C) for a week or two so the priming sugars can ferment and then move the beer to a cooler place such as your shed etc. for the rest of the conditioning period. The beer will clear and mature better at cooler temperatures.
You beer is now ready to drink. Enjoy!